First teaser for new Swamp Thing TV series brings on the straight-up horror

DC Universe has dropped the first teaser for its forthcoming TV adaption of , and tonally it feels more like a horror film than your standard comic superhero fare. And that makes sense, given that one of the executive producers is director James Wan, who brought us The Conjuring and Insidious franchises and (just last week) .

(Spoilers for the DC character below.)

The original Swamp Thing character was created in 1971 by comics writer Len Wein as he was riding the subway in Queens. (“I didn’t have a title for it, so I kept referring to it as ‘that swamp thing I’m working on.’ And that’s how it got its name,” he told Wizard Entertainment in 2004.) Swamp Thing has had several human incarnations over the ensuing decades, but the best-known is Alec Holland, a scientist who invents a formula to solve the world’s food-shortage problem. A criminal organization sets fire to his secret facility in Louisiana and he runs burning into the swamp, drenched in his own bioreactive formula and presumed dead.

Thanks to that formula, the swamp’s plant life is imbued with his consciousness and memories. The plant life takes on human form as an Earth elemental. Among the adversaries in the Holland/Swamp Thing era are Anton Arcane, a mad scientist obsessed with immortality and building an army of “Un-Men.” There’s also the Sunderland Corporation, which seeks to capture Swamp Thing and study him in the hopes of recreating Holland’s bioreactive formula. In 1982, filmmaker Wes Craven released his (rather campy) film version of , largely following the Holland plot line.

DC Universe announced it was developing a series in May 2018, with Mark Verheiden signing on as writer and executive producer. It takes place in a separate fictional universe than , , and DC’s other live-action series. The original plan was to have 13 episodes, but production shut down prematurely last week due to “creative differences” between DC Universe and its parent company, Warner Media. (Warner is rumored to be developing a larger streaming platform.) So now there are going to be 10 episodes.

The DC Universe series stars Crystal Reed as Abby Arcane who, in the comics, is niece to arch-villain Anton. According to the official synopsis, she’s now a doctor with the CDC who comes back to her hometown of Houma, Louisiana, because of “a deadly swamp-borne virus” ravaging the area. She teams up with fellow scientist Alec Holland to investigate—and just like in the comics, Holland is killed. Except he might not really be dead, as Abby learns more about the mysterious, likely supernatural nature of the local swamp.

We don’t learn much more from the first teaser about just how will be reimagined this time around, but the writers are clearly emphasizing the horror aspects. There’s no dialogue apart from horrified screams of various folks who encounter something terrible—probably Swamp Thing, but there could be other monsters in the mix. For instance, the cast includes Kevin Durand as biogeneticist Jason Woodrue, who is supposedly another tragic victim of whatever is going on in that swamp.

We also get glimpses of a young blonde girl collapsing on her classroom floor with a bloody nose. I’m guessing this is flashback to the death of Shawna, daughter of Maria Sunderland (Virginia Madsen) and her businessman-husband Avery (Will Patton). Abby’s homecoming is supposed to trigger Maria’s dormant grief and draw her into the swamp mystery. Meanwhile, Avery just wants to find lucrative ways to exploit the swamp. Add in a nosy local reporter, a blind psychic, a has-been former stuntman, and Jennifer Beals as the tough-as-nails town sheriff, and we might just get an entertaining ride.

will debut on DC Universe on May 31, 2019.

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